OFFICIAL: Gor Mahia's Rooney Onyango to captain Rising Stars at upcoming COSAFA tournament

Photo || FKF

OFFICIAL: Gor Mahia's Rooney Onyango to captain Rising Stars at upcoming COSAFA tournament

Mark Kinyanjui 17:00 - 24.06.2024

Rooney Onyango will captain Kenya at the upcoming COSAFA tournament in South Africa.

Gor Mahia right back Rooney Onyango will captain the Rising Stars squad  for the upcoming COSAFA tournament set to take place in Durban, South Africa, from June 26 to July 7.

Onyango has risen to prominence over the last eight months since joining Gor Mahia. He made his debut for the national team against Russia during their 2-2 draw in Turkey last October.

He has gone on to be an integral part of the team, and has now amassed seven caps for the team, scoring once and assisting three times.

Coach Ken Odhiambo has confirmed that the defender will captain the team during the tournament, where they will be facing Zimbabwe, Zambia and Comoros in group B.

“Rooney is one of the best players in the Kenyan league at the moment,” Odhiambo told the media during the side’s last training session at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi on Monday.

“This boy is a leader. If you look at him, he is so confident, even the goal he scored against Bidco on Sunday was fantastic.

“ I believe Rooney has a bright future ahead and we pray for him to succeed in his career and then at the end of the day, Only God knows what he has in store for him.”

Onyango has been deployed as a right winger ever since making his debut for the side, and has even featured on the left flank.

This is despite being a right back primarily for his club Gor Mahia. However, Rooney refuses to let playing in an unfamiliar position at national team level affect him, and he has actually embraced it. "It is easy. It is about mindset and the confidence you put on on the pitch.”

Last November, Engin Firat explained that playing Onyango as a right back would be limiting his true attacking capabilities, comparing the situation to “driving a Porsche with a hand brake”.

“Rooney has a lot of offensive qualities which he has started learning quickly in the national team.

Onyango’s ability to influence play in the final third is not new. During his days at Wazito under the tutelage of Francis Kimanzi, Onyango had formed a formidable wing-back partnership with now-Tusker left-back Levin Joseph Odhiambo.

Their ability to influence play in the final third as full-backs left interested observers with no choice but to compare them to the dynamic Liverpool duo of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson.

Kenya will be flying out to South Africa on Tuesday at 7 AM, with the squad expected to be announced later tonight.

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